The village of Ducaj near Boge, Albania.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Tirana Airport, Albania.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Porto, Portugal on June 25th!

Monday, May 29, 2023

A busy day exploring Dublin, Ireland!

We like to walk cities because you see so much more. And walk we did! From where Max is parked to Dublin Castle in the central area is almost 4 kms, then another 3 kms past that is the old Kilmainham Gaol (Jail) Museum. Plus all of the wandering around. Then 7 kms back to Max. So we did at least 16 kms (10 miles) in total.

So many tourists and immigrants in the central area though. It kind of reminded me of Prague, where it's rare to meet an actual Czech person!

While we like visiting the city for short periods, we do like the smaller towns better. And I think Ruth likes the cities better than I do.

The day started off overcast, but no rain in the forecast.

Lots of new buildings mixed with old.

The Harp Bridge is interesting.

Some cool architecture!


Part of the Westin Hotel chain.

Our first destination was Trinity College Campus. Most tourists come here in order to see the famous Book of Kells and the Trinity Library. But we've read that you don't get to see much of the book itself, and although the library would have been interesting, we couldn't justify the €18.50 ($27 CAD, $20 USD) entrance fee for a maximum half hour visit. 


The library is the long building.


An odd sculpture at Trinity College.

From there, we walked over to Dublin Castle. This is another location where our entrance fee is covered by our English Heritage passes.

No, this is not the castle! 
Just a building along the way.

I hadn't done any advance research into Dublin Castle, so I was a little surprised to find out that it's not really a castle in the sense of what you would expect it to look like. To me, it would be more accurate to describe it as a palace. I think the building above looks more like a castle than Dublin Castle does.

Located on the "castle" grounds is the Chester Beatty Museum and Library. Chester Beatty was an American mining millionaire who collected ancient manuscripts and books and other collectibles. His collection is public, and permanently on display and anybody can visit for free.

A Chinese robe.

But for the most part, it didn't do anything for us. Lots of 2,000 year old pieces of writing in odd languages. To me, it seemed like everything was the same. Similar to some archeological museums that we've been in where I say "you can only look at so many pieces of broken pottery" before you lose interest. 

The back part of Dublin Castle.

The front courtyard of Dublin Castle.

With our English Heritage cards, we could have signed up for a guided tour (normally €12), but we chose to do the self guided version (normally €8) so that we had lots of time to get to the Kilmainham Gaol Museum for our 3:15pm booking.

Interesting skylight.

Hallway.

Ceiling.

This room is still used to entertain heads of state and other special visitors.

The Throne Room.
Queen Victoria sat here once and said the chair was very uncomfortable!

Fancy chandelier.

This room is where every Irish president gets sworn in to office.

To me, Dublin Castle was just okay, but maybe because I was expecting more of a castle. I'm glad we went, but I'm also glad we didn't pay the €8!

From there, we walked over to the old jail.

Christ Church Cathedral.

Fantastic bridge over the street.

Along the way, we saw "Ireland's oldest pub".

The problem is that there are several pubs in Ireland that make this same claim. But, this one certainly attracts the tourists, as you can see in the photo above.

We passed by the Guinness brewery.

I would have liked to have done the brewery tour, but once again, it's a bit of a tourist rip off, at €20 ($29 CAD, $21.50 USD) per person for a self guided tour and one pint of Guinness at the end. We've been to lots of brewery and distillery tours for free over the years. My money would be better spent simply buying a bottle of the product.

We walked along the canal for a while.


The old Kilmainham Gaol (Jail) Museum is a popular attraction. You have to book online in advance, and when I went to do so there were very few spots available. I found out later that I had booked at exactly the right time when they release cancellation tickets and just got lucky. If I check right now, they are sold out until June 16th!

Kilmainham Gaol opened in 1796 as the county jail for the city of Dublin. Most inmates were there for short term sentences for minor crimes. However, over time it also became a place where political prisoners were housed, as well as where executions took place. 

One of the things we wanted to learn more about during our time here in Ireland is the struggle for Irish independence, and this tour certainly gives you a lot of background on that. Once again, our tour guide was fantastic and for this tour I think it would have been well worth the €8 fee had we had to pay it. Really glad that we bought those English Heritage cards.

In one of the older sections of the jail.

Old cell door.

Conditions in prison were very poor. But most inmates were there for short term sentences, so the jailers figured that if they were in once for a short stay, they wouldn't want to come back. 

Through most of the 19th century, overcrowding led to disease, poor health and hygiene, and no full separation of adult and child (or male and female) convicts.

By the onset of the Great Famine, already overcrowded jails were pushed to their limits due to people breaking laws simply so they could get arrested and be fed each day. This led to food being rationed in the prison itself.


At one point, cells designed to hold one person were holding as many as five at a time. With a bed, a bucket, and a bible (most inmates couldn't read) being the only items in the room. No, there was no access to a toilet.


The newer part of the jail was built in 1861.



By 1916 when the Irish uprising took place, the jail had actually been closed and became a military barracks and military prison.  Between the 3rd and 12th of May 1916, fourteen men were executed by firing squad in the Stonebreakers’ Yard of Kilmainham Gaol at the direction of the English general in charge. Seven of them were signatories of the Irish Declaration of Independence. 

Where the firing squads did their thing.

Really interesting visit, and as I said earlier, our guide was fantastic. He often spoke with great emotion that you could tell wasn't part of the tour, or if it was, he's a very good actor.

At 4:30pm we began the 7 km walk back to Max!

Scenery along the way.
Notice the clear blue sky!

St. Patrick Tower, built 1757.
At the time, the tallest smoke stack in Europe.

Just another interesting building.

We were beat when we got back to Max. Surprisingly, we are still the only motorhome in the parking lot.

But, we seem to be recovered this morning, and ready to head out on foot again!

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2 comments:

  1. Wow, what a fantastic tour of the city and historical background you are getting, along with some good exercise! My feet would be sore walking on all that pavement, though. Hope your shoes are extra comfortable and well-fitting!

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    Replies
    1. We did manage to cover a lot of ground and saw lots of great sights along the way. The history of Ireland is very interesting and quite complex and then it will get even more interesting once we get into Northern Ireland. I am sure we are going to get a lot more in the way of history lessons as we continue our travels through this beautiful country.

      Yes, we both have very comfortable walking shoes. Kevin finds it hard though when we do the slow walking/standing as we go through the guided tours, there is a fair bit of just standing. The actual normal walking is much better although we do try to take time to sit and watch the world go by too.

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